Following several days of attacks from the government over Mark Latham's comments about George Bush, the new Opposition Leader has met with the American Ambassador, Tom Schieffer, and reiterated the fundamental importance of the alliance to Australia's national security.
The meeting was followed by a press conference in the ALP Caucus Room in Parliament House where the two men were flanked by an American and an Australian flag.
This is the text of a media statement by the Leader of the Opposition, Mark Latham, and the Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs, Kevin Rudd.
Australia’s Alliance With The United States
Today the Leader of the Opposition, Mark Latham, and Shadow Foreign Minister, Kevin Rudd, met with the Ambassador of the United States, Tom Schieffer.
In our meeting, we discussed the importance of our alliance to both our countries.
The US alliance is fundamental to Australia's national security. The alliance is also fundamental to Australia's national interests. It was an alliance formed by Labor Prime Minister John Curtin and has been supported by every Labor Leader over the past 62 years.
National security policy under Labor is based on three pillars:
For Labor, however, our alliance with the United States has never meant compliance. From time to time our interests will differ, as they did on Iraq.
- Our alliance with the United States;
- Our membership of the United Nations; and
- Our policy of comprehensive engagement with Asia.
In the context of the Iraq debate in early 2003, many passionate statements were made - by and large, the product of the intensity and the importance of that debate.
It is now time to look to the future and we appreciate yesterday's positive statement by Ambassador Schieffer to that effect.
We look forward to working closely with the US Ambassador and the US Administration on the common security policy challenges that confront both our countries - both globally and in the region.